Psalm 119:53
Horror has taken hold on me because of the wicked that forsake your law.
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(53) Horror.—Rather, violent indignation, a storm of rage, hot and fierce as the simoon. For the word, see Psalm 11:6, Note.

Psalm 119:53. Horror hath taken hold upon me — A mixed passion, made up of abhorrence of their sins, and dread and sorrow at the consideration of the judgments of God coming upon them; because of the wicked, &c. — For the dishonour which they bring to God, the scandal and mischief to others, and their own certain ruin.119:49-56 Those that make God's promises their portion, may with humble boldness make them their plea. He that by his Spirit works faith in us, will work for us. The word of God speaks comfort in affliction. If, through grace, it makes us holy, there is enough in it to make us easy, in all conditions. Let us be certain we have the Divine law for what we believe, and then let not scoffers prevail upon us to decline from it. God's judgments of old comfort and encourage us, for he is still the same. Sin is horrible in the eyes of all that are sanctified. Ere long the believer will be absent from the body, and present with the Lord. In the mean time, the statutes of the Lord supply subjects for grateful praise. In the season of affliction, and in the silent hours of the night, he remembers the name of the Lord, and is stirred up to keep the law. All who have made religion the first thing, will own that they have been unspeakable gainers by it.Horror hath taken hold upon me - Has seized me; has overpowered and overwhelmed me. I shudder; I tremble; I am afraid; I am filled with distress. Luther, "I am burnt up." The Hebrew word - זלעפה zal‛âphâh - is from a verb meaning "to be hot; to glow"; and the idea in the word is that of violent heat; then, a glow or burning, as of a wind - the "simoom" of the desert. See Psalm 11:6, where the word is translated "horrible tempest," in the margin, "burning." The word occurs only in that passage, in the one before us, and in Lamentations 5:10, where it is rendered "terrible (famine)," in the margin, "terrors," or "storms." The state referred to here is that of one who sees the storm of burning wind and sand approaching; who expects every moment to be overcome and buried; whose soul trembles with consternation.

Because of the wicked ... - Their conduct alarms me. Their danger appals me. Their condition overwhelms me. I see them rebelling against God. I see them exposed to his wrath. I see the grave just before them, and the awful scenes of judgment near. I see them about to be cast off, and to sink to endless woe, and my soul is transfixed with horror. The contemplation overwhelms me with uncontrollable anguish. Can such things be? Can people be thus in danger? And can they be calm and composed, when so near such awful horrors? No man can look on the world of despair without horror; no one can truly realize that his fellow-men are exposed to the horrors of that abode without having his soul filled with anguish. Strange that all people do not feel thus - that impenitent people can walk along on the verge of the grave and of hell "without" horror - that pious people, good people, praying people, can look upon their friends in that condition without having their souls filled with unutterable anguish. Compare Psalm 119:136; Romans 9:1-4; Luke 19:41.

53. Horror—rather, "vehement wrath" [Hengstenberg]. Horror; a mixed passion made up of indignation at their persons as sinful, and abhorrency of their sins, and dread and sorrow at the consideration of the judgments of God coming upon them.

Because of the wicked that forsake thy law; for the dishonour which they bring to God, the scandal and mischief to others, and their own certain ruin. Horror hath taken hold upon me,.... Trembling, sorrow, and distress, to a great degree, like a storm, or a blustering, scorching, burning wind, as the word (h) signifies, which is very terrible;

because of the wicked that forsake thy law: not only transgress the law of the Lord, as every man does, more or less; but wilfully and obstinately despise it, and cast it behind their backs, and live in a continued course of disobedience to it; or who apostatize from the doctrine of the word of God; wilfully deny the truth, after they have had a speculative knowledge of it, whose punishment is very grievous, Hebrews 10:26; and now partly on account of the daring impiety of wicked men, who stretch out their hands against God, and strengthen themselves against the Almighty, and run upon him, even on the thick bosses of his bucklers; because of the shocking nature of their sins, the sad examples thereby set to others, the detriment they are of to themselves, and dishonour they bring to God; and partly because of the dreadful punishment that shall be inflicted on them here, and especially hereafter, when a horrible tempest of wrath will come upon them. Hence such trembling seized the psalmist; and often so it is, that good men tremble more for the wicked than they do for themselves; see Psalm 119:120.

(h) "procella", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Schmidt; "horror tanquam procella", Cocceius.

{d} Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law.

(d) That is, a vehement zeal to your glory and indignation against the wicked.

53. Horror &c.] Hot indignation seizes me. It was not unmingled with sorrow, Psalm 119:136.

that forsake thy law] Careless or apostate Israelites are clearly meant.Verse 53. - Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy Law. The Revised Version has "hot indignation" instead of "horror;" and so Rosenmüller, Hengstenberg, Cheyne, Professor Alexander, and others; but Dr. Kay well defends the Authorized Version ('The Psalms,' Appendix 1. pp. 462, 463). The feeling intended probably resembled that described by Ezra (Ezra 9:6). The ἀθυμίαof the LXX. does not ill express it. The eightfold Vav. He prays for the grace of true and fearlessly joyous confession. The lxx renders Psalm 119:41: καὶ ἔλθοι ἐπ ̓ ἐμε ̓ τὸ ἔλεός σου; but the Targum and Jerome rightly (cf. Psalm 119:77, Isaiah 63:7) have the plural: God's proofs of loving-kindness in accordance with His promises will put him in the position that he will not be obliged to be dumb in the presence of him who reproaches him (חרף, prop. a plucker, cf. Arab. charûf, a lamb equals a plucker of leaves or grass), but will be able to answer him on the ground of his own experience. The verb ענה, which in itself has many meanings, acquires the signification "to give an answer" through the word, דּבר, that is added (synon. השׁיב דּבר). Psalm 119:43 also refers to the duty of confessing God. The meaning of the prayer is, that God may not suffer him to come to such a pass that he will be utterly unable to witness for the truth; for language dies away in the mouth of him who is unworthy of its before God. The writer has no fear of this for himself, for his hope is set towards God's judgments (למשׁפּטך, defective plural, as also in Psalm 119:149; in proof of which, compare Psalm 119:156 and Psalm 119:175), his confidence takes its stand upon them. The futures which follow from Psalm 119:44 to Psalm 119:48 declare that what he would willingly do by the grace of God, and strives to do, is to walk בּרחבה, in a broad space (elsewhere בּמּרחב), therefore unstraitened, which in this instance is not equivalent to happily, but courageously and unconstrainedly, without allowing myself to be intimidated, and said of inward freedom which makes itself known outwardly. In Psalm 119:46 the Vulgate renders: Et loquebar de (in) testimoniis tuis in conspectu regum et non confundebar - the motto of the Augsburg Confession, to which it was adapted especially in connection with this historical interpretation of the two verbs, which does not correspond to the original text. The lifting up of the hands in Psalm 119:48 is an expression of fervent longing desire, as in connection with prayer, Psalm 28:2; Psalm 63:5; Psalm 134:2; Psalm 141:2, and frequently. The second אשׁר אהבתי is open to the suspicion of being an inadvertent repetition. שׂיח בּ (synon. בּ הגה) signifies a still or audible meditating that is absorbed in the object.
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